Silverstreet Everything Human, Social and Political - bi-termly. First Edition - â€˜Revolutionâ€™
Editorsâ€™ note Welcome to Silverstreet, the new student magazine dedicated to exploring and experiencing the human, social and political sciences in all their depth and diversity. Urged onwards by the range of perspectives within the melting pot that is HSPS, we wanted to create a platform that show-cased the resulting research, debates, and ideas from students and academics alike: encouraging a new dialogue across disciplines and indeed the university; beyond the structure of lectures and supervisions. As well as hoping to be informative and an enjoyable read, we are all for fresh interpretations and pushing forward frontiers, something we believe our first issue definitely does. In this issue our writers take on "Revolution" from the multiple perspectives in HSPS- everything from Brazil to Thailand, Conservatism to Machiavelli, international development to Russell Brand, and revolutions in the Middle East to internal revolution. We bring news on cutting-edge developments in HSPS on your doorstep in Cambridge; This is no elite, we want your ideas, we want your thoughts and opinions on a topic. If you want to join the Silverstreet team or just occasionally write for us, you would be more than welcome in what ever capacity. Enjoy!
The team Editor in Chief Roisin Beck Taylor
Roisin Beck Taylor
Jessica Farmery Roberta Huldisch Lenny Cherry Dani Islailov Harsha Balasubramanian Roisin Beck Taylor
Editing team Jessica Farmery Harsha Balasubramanian
This issueâ€™s contributors: Cover photograph - Lily Hosking Ariella Rotenberg Gabriella Braddell Dawson Jessive Farmery Marco Paoletti Lucy McMahan William Stark Luke Karwowski
In this issue HSPS Developments Page 4 A Complexity of Self-Identities: Feminist, Palestinian, and Citizen of Israel Ariella Rotenberg Pages 5-6 Jaguars, Drinking Games, God and Development Gabriella Braddell Dawson Pages 7-8 SOCIALIST TWERKER: Sociology, Politics, and Celebrities William Stark Page 9 THE ZAPATISTAS: TWENTY YEARS OF RESISTANCE IN THE MEXICO OF NAFTA Mara Budgen Pages 10-11 Revolutions Per Minute: The Slow Pace of Revolution. William Stark Pages 11-12 “Why is my face on that giant TV screen…?!!” Notes from a Bangkok protest camp Jessica Farmery Pages 13-14 The State of Machiavelli; a literary review. Marco Paoletti Pages 15-16 Black bloc: defense tactic or a new wave of politics? Lucy McMahan Pages 17-20 A Note on Conservative Revolutions Marco Paoletti Page 21-22 Are drone strikes consistent with a Revolution in Military Affairs? Luke Karwowski Pages 23-24 ‘The mindfulness revolution is imminent’ Anonymous Pages 24-25
HSPS DEVELOPMENTS Oldest hominin footprints outside of Africa discovered
Politicians compete to look â€˜snazzyâ€™ in Wellies
In May 2013 large surfaces of laminated surface was exposed in Happisburgh, UK revealing hollows looking suspiciously like footprints.
With the recent disastrous flooding in the South, rapidly spreading further North as we speak, there is a disturbing trend for politicians wandering aimlessly through murky water, pointing at fields in a desperate attempt to looks sympathetic.
The footprints have been dated between ca. 1 million and 0.78 million years ago. This is an extremely rare find, and thank fully were recorded at great length before the sea washed the prints away. These developments not only highlight that
Dongria Kondh tribal community saved by India from Vedanta mine Social Anthropology Survival International have claimed a triumphant victory over a multinational conglomerate organisation, with the final decision by the Ministry of environment and forests claiming that the Dongria Kondh tribeâ€™s consent had not been sought. This is a fantastic show of force will have large repercussions for those companies intent on stepping on the livelihoods and lands of tribal communities globally.
Surely the better solution to the problem would be to remove Owen Paterson from power? Controversial? Maybe, but for a global warming denier to be in such a prominent role in government, is it really wise to listen to him in any capacity?
Research suggests that Ancient settlements and modern cities follow same rules for development Archaeology In a study led by the University of Colorado Boulder, equations have shown that development patterns in modern urban areas work equally well to understand ancient cities too. In the future this is likely to aid archaeologists to be able to estimate size of settlement area and population.
A Complexity of Self-Identities: Feminist, Palestinian, and Citizen of Israel Ariella Rotenberg Aisha, “cannot sit still” in the face of hardship. She cannot remember exactly when she realized that she had the power to stand up for herself, but she does know for sure that she has “always had this energy, this motivation, to always do something, to always try to change.” Her drive to stand up for herself moved Aisha to Aisha, like most Arab citizens of Israel, is the found a feminist, Palestinian-nationalist, student group on grandchild of Arabs who remained inside the boundaries the campus on her University in Jerusalem. of Israel during and after the war of 1948. Those Arabs who remained inside the borders of Israel were in the Aisha is a 20-year-old young woman attending the minority, as ninety percent of the Arab population living Hebrew University of Jerusalem and she is one of the in Mandate Palestine were expelled or fled to what are approximately 1.5 million Arabs in Israel who hold Israeli now the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and the citizenship. She is thus a member of Israel’s Arab Gaza strip, or other surrounding Arab countries. minority – a minority that comprises almost twenty At the time of the war, the West Bank was percent of Israeli citizenry. occupied by Jordan and the Gaza strip by Egypt. While undisputed numbers are hard to come by regarding the ‘Self-identifying as a “Palestinian” puts Aisha realities of the war of 1948, most sources estimate that in a sticky situation.’ 156,000 Arabs remained inside what then became The Arab population in Israel is made up of three Israel in 1948. With war still fresh in their minds, the different religious groups: Muslim, Christian, and Druze. leaders of the newly established Israeli government Arabs and Jews in Israel live mostly separate from one were acutely aware of the small, and what they another; Arab citizens of Israel live in all-Arab villages or imagined to be a potentially oppositional, Arab minority towns either in the northern part of Israel known as “The now within their borders. The Israeli government Little Triangle” or in the Negev desert. A portion of Arab therefore implemented a military administration citizens of Israel lives in cities together with Jews, but (memshal tzvai) over the Arab minority in the hopes of often in separate neighborhoods. Thus there is very little controlling a perceived danger to the young Israel. The contact between the two communities, that is, until Israeli government lifted the military administration in university age where both Arabs and Jews study side- 1966. by-side at Israeli universities.
‘Being a Palestinian woman is really hard!’ Even the terminology used to describe this minority Arab population in Israel has historically been a source of contention. The most commonplace label is “Arab-Israeli” or “Israeli-Arab”. Some consider these designations misrepresentative in that they define the Arab minority as “Israeli” with a qualifier of “Arab.” Others prefer the phrase “Palestinian citizen of Israel.” This designation, however, excludes part of the Arab minority, such as most of the Druze population, who do not identify as Palestinians.
The self-identification of Arab citizens of Israel inevitably includes a complex combination of opposing identities. Aisha, for example, self-identifies as Palestinian, Arab, and woman. Despite the fact that she was born in Israel and holds Israeli citizenship, she does not feel “Israeli” in the slightest. But self-identifying as a “Palestinian” puts Aisha in a sticky situation. She explained to me that she understands many Palestinians outside of Israel would view her as a “cheater” or a “traitor” simply because she is living inside of Israel.
“I feel that being a Palestinian woman is really hard!” Aisha exclaimed. She continued, “We suffer from the Israeli state and also from our community. It, [the Arab community], marginalizes women a lot. Some girls are not allowed to work, just to cook and clean. If a girl gets home late, she is beaten. But if a boy comes home late, it is okay.” “We suffer from two sides,” she concluded. This multi-layered burden drove Aisha to establish the first Palestinian-feminist student group on the campus of an Israeli university. A small cohort of young women, just six of them, gathers together for weekly meetings and occasional protests under the banner of “Thowra A’la Kul a-Sulta”- loosely translated as, “Rebel Against all Authority.”
She imagines that her being educated at an Israeli institution of higher education – in Hebrew, no less – separates her from the Palestinian cause, according to Palestinians outside Israel. So even though she insists on a strong identification with the Palestinian people, it is a selfconscious identification, one that she knows may not be mutually recognized by her co-nationals outside of Israel.
‘Women with headscarves were shocked” How would Aisha defend her identity to her Palestinian brothers and sisters? She insists, “I can’t blame them because many of them don’t know what we go through, [Arab citizens of Israel]. Once we get to talk to them and explain it, their whole perspective will change.” Aisha’s Palestinian self-identification is not the only source of tension in her lived reality, in fact she revealed to me that each of the three ways she identifies, namely Palestinian, Arab, and woman, comes with a “layer of oppression.”.
When I asked Aisha how the student body has received the group, she told me, in a very matter-offact tone, that opposition to the group has come mostly from within the Arab community at Hebrew University. During a protest she participated in on international women’s day, Aisha described for me how “women with headscarves were shocked” at Aisha’s signs calling attention to the horrors of sexual violence, and some Arab young men at the university cursed at them insisting that such protests were “unacceptable in our community.” Aisha refuses to be deterred from her cause, however, and is resolute in her work toward change for women in her Arab community and for the Palestinian community inside Israel. As she looks to the future, Aisha insists that even if a Palestinian was established, she would continue her “struggle for the rights of Arab women”.
In Teshua, a coastal town on the outskirts of the capital, a branch of the ICCG church sits green and black and white like a giant umbrella from the ruling political party’s logo. A couple of kilometres down the road in Teshua Greater Estates are the headquarters of the Volunteer project. At some point during their stay most volunteers decide, out of curiosity, to go along with the workers at the house to a Sunday service at the ICCG church. On their return they are quick to point out that the Pastor is doing what the Catholic Church did a few hundred years before. They tell of how, once the music had ended and the congregation had stopped whirring and tingling like the ceiling fans above, they were all asked to raise their hand holding today’s donation for the church’s new generator. They describe how they were divided into groups and sent out into Teshua on a recruiting mission, wearing the ICCG T-shirts they had been asked to buy. Some even returned with pamphlets informing them to contact the Pastor for future “crusades”.
Jaguars, Drinking Games, God and Development Gabriella Braddell Dawson
And, they all noted angrily, at the end of the service the Pastor climbed into his Jaguar and drove off. Before he reaches the coastal road he has to pass through Teshua slum, perched on the edge of the ocean, where people relieve themselves behind mounds of earth in places that might one day become prime real estate for men like him. Indeed, Celebrity Pastors are among the richest and most influential men in the country. Self-appointed “Archbishops” , “Cardinals”, even “Prophets” compete with the President, Coca cola and each other for publicity, decorating the streets of the capital with huge banners and posters advertising their faces and their vigils. The volunteers cannot understand why in Teshua, the people they are helping through their community projects take what their pastors say so seriously and without question. But in Teshua, politics has failed most people, failing to deliver water, electricity or opportunities and so people turn to their church. Most of the volunteers have no Faith themselves and the ones that do agree on the limitations of prayer and worship to solve problems of poverty. They believe in what they are doing. Their teaching projects at the various schools and orphanages are making a real difference to children’s lives. The School of Distinction, the charity’s Flagship Project although in the early stages, will provide outstanding education, training, facilities and opportunities to underprivileged children in Teshua. It will unify the community through sport and give everyone Hope. They believe in Education. Sustainable development. People empowerment. Lasting difference. Collaboration, cooperation. All buzz word to be found in the Volunteer Project’s mission statement.
What they do not notice is that those words do to them what the Pastor’s performance does to the people of Teshua. What they do not see, or choose not to is that Samuel, the head and founder of the Volunteer Project Charity, charges them £120 a week to stay in the volunteer house where they live in dormitories of up to 8 people in a country where a month’s rent for a single room apartment is considerably less than that. They do not realise that Jonathan, the 17 year old worker they all like so much and who takes them on the £900 10 day African Experience trip is getting paid a pound a day. They do not realise that the School of distinction is not being built because there is no land to build it on as none has been bought. They do not seem to notice that Samuel has just bought a brand new car. Instead, they come in their numbers – in the summer months there are often 70 of them at the house, from all the major Gap year organisations. Indeed, volunteering is popular. According to a new survey, around 50% of UK university students have volunteered or are planning to do so. But when they get here something happens. Maybe it’s the heat. Those good and honourable intentions they were so proud of begin to dry up. Because looking after kids, even if they are poor and African, is an awful lot like babysitting. And they need rehydration. And so they start drinking. And partying. And they turn up at the Teshua orphanage to teach, unequipped with any teacher training or even a lesson plan and seriously hung-over. They know nothing about the National syllabus but they are keen to improvise a lesson in maths, British history, the Royal family. The real teachers who were there in the first place and will be there when the volunteers head home in a few weeks, are happy to watch as the volunteers take it in turns to teach their classes. Poorly trained themselves, they are paid so little that they do not care that their class of 11 year olds is having the same lesson in basic arithmetic taught to them for the third time that week because of lack of coordination between the volunteers. And by twelve o ‘clock the volunteers pat themselves on the back and call it a day and traipse home to eat and sleep. To prepare for a night of more drinking games that will often culminate in the food they have just eaten coming straight back up again. The improvised classroom at the back of someone’s house that serves as the temporary School of Distinction, sits empty most afternoons, as it has done since the Project began in 2000. The older boys tired of coming when the volunteers stopped knowing what to teach them. In Teshua, two organisations have stepped in where the government has failed. One works in the name of God, and one works in the name of Development. The church is corrupt but the people the corruption affects go there willingly. However the people whose lives were to be “developed” were never consulted before the gap year students came marching in. And it is because many in Teshua resent the Volunteer Project that I decided to write this article. Perhaps it is time to reconsider our incredibly patronising role as new-age missionaries in the developing world. *All names of people and places have been made up.
When Miley Cyrus recently said in a number of interviews that she was ‘one of the world’s biggest feminists’, the world looked up, took notice, and was c o m p l e t e l y u n s u r p r i s e d by h e r statement. Cyrus’s feat of ‘twerking’ in front of Robin Thicke, has long since exhausted her capacity to shock people, even after saying what some could argue to be contradictory statement to her image. However Cyrus’ argument that by using her body to sell her music she is merely reversing the double standards of what a Mr David Beckham does to sell undergarments is one that is actually strong when one considers society’s prudishness toward displaying the female form as opposed to the male. However, on the side of the celebrity feminist spectrum, Lily Allen’s come back video ‘Hard Out Here’ parodies the demands of the music industry on female artists, herself coming back from having two children, by showing a middle aged blazered man ‘twerking’. However, to many, this coming from an artist whose father’s name may or may not have had a considerable influence on her career may seem a little sweet. When celebrities get themselves embroiled in sociological debates, they provide small arguments that may for a period raise awareness of an issue. However, this argument is not combined with a general viewpoint on issues of society. Cyrus does not go into a great detail on her views of the male/female gender discourse, and neither does Allen discuss if her heavy use of make up is exploitative sexualisation of her body, or merely her freedom to express her own image. This notion of celebrities just raising awareness of a single issue and neglecting to raise the importance of the overall debate can be seen in politics also.
SOCIALIST TWERKER: Sociology, Politics, and Celebrities William Stark When celebrities get themselves involved in politics, they generally support a single cause. Over the course of the 2012 US Presidential elections, there was a deluge of celebrities allying themselves to a candidate, with George Clooney holding a fundraiser for Obama which netted the campaign over $15 million. However, since Obama’s election, Clooney has not made any kind of statement over his continued political beliefs, contributed to any particular debate, but merely just went back to b e i n g a c e l e b r i t y. S e e m i n g l y celebrities are wheeled out and dusted off (which an aging Clint Eastwood seemingly literally was at the 2012 Republican Party Convention) at times of election and then put away. This short term popularity boost and support is not constructive in helping people grapple with the great debates of society. It is merely the good image of the celebrity helping the candidate, or, helping the cause. This is not a n ew s e n s a t i o n . G r e g o r y P e c k famously voiced an advert calling for the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court back in 1987. While it is debatable if this was a worthy cause or not, it does not mean the electorate uses the ideas put forward by Peck to question the nature of the Supreme Court and the President’s ability to nominate candidates, but only to assert that Bork was a nasty piece of work. C l o o n ey m a ke s O b a m a l o o k respectable, Eastwood makes Romney masculine, Allen makes the music industry look exploitative, while Cyrus
makes those criticising her look hypocritical. In none of these cases do celebrities actually raise the bigger picture. What about the bigger picture? On Newsnight, Russell Brand did bring up the general argument rather than just an issue. He talks of the general anger and frustration at the democratic system, and calls for an overall change. Is this a step up from Cyrus? In a way it is, as he sets up a greater debate over the nature of our political system. However, in its wide-ranging subject matter his argument provides no actual talking points for action, merely anger, similar to his debate performance at the Union. His visible frustration does not call for us to vote Communist at the next election, but merely not to bother. Brand does not even go as far as give a means to overthrow the current system and bypass the vote. This uselessness of Brand’s call to action leads us to a strange conclusion. Clearly, the most effective political or sociological celebrity of recent times must be Ronald Reagan. Yes, the star of ‘Bedtime for Bonzo’ and the United State’s 40th President is the one of few celebrities who actually managed to use his position of celebrity for practical political use. Reagan raised $1 million for Goldwater in 1964, in his famous ‘A Time For Choosing’ speech, but followed this up with a victory, as well as attempting twice for the Republican leadership. His presidency shaped America. Can Brand or Cyrus claim do that? 9
THE ZAPATISTAS: TWENTY YEARS OF RESISTANCE IN THE MEXICO OF NAFTA Mara Budgen An image of Zapatista commander and spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos stands out from amongst the spider-legged models of Marie Claire magazine. Only his dark eyes and smoking pipe are visible from the balaclava that covers his face; in military garb, he wears a chain of bullets around his shoulders and holds an AK47 in his hands. It is these press stunts, and savvy use of the Internet, that have earned the EZLN, the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, a.k.a. the Zapatistas, their reputation as architects of one of the world’s first ‘media’ revolutions. The insurgent group is based in the indigenous communities of the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. Indigenous inhabitants are estimated today at around 30% of the state’s population, and mostly consist of subsistence peasants. Though the EZLN was founded in 1983 by a non-indigenous left-wing urban guerrilla group, according to Subcomandante Marcos the group’s ethos was transformed by contact with indigenous Chiapans, whose cause became the Zapatista’s raison d’être. The EZLN erupted onto the world scene on the 1st of January 1994, when it took over large areas of the predominantly agricultural Chiapas, declaring war on the government. It demanded social justice for the state’s indigenous peoples: that they be given equitable shares of land and be left to live dignified lives supported by subsistence farming of communally owned plots. Since the first day of 1994, almost exactly twenty years ago, the Zapatista uprising has had a momentous effect on Mexican society and politics. It is credited with having advanced democratisation in the country and has spearheaded a national movement for indigenous, particularly indigenous women’s, rights. In the 38 municipalities the EZLN has declared independent from state authorities, it has instituted consultative forms of self-government, where committees are elected by indigenous Chiapans, and self-administered health and education services preserve their cultural practices.
Yet today the movement finds itself in a weakened position, as Chiapas still suffers from the piercing levels of poverty and inequality that the EZLN rebelled against in 1994. The intractability of this condition can be traced back decades, and since the Zapatista revolution, new challenges have arisen from Mexico’s accelerated push to liberalise and globalise its economy. The 1910-11 Mexican Revolution brought sweeping land reform to the country, but large landowners, latifundistas, continued to own Chiapas’ most productive endowments. Especially in the 1970s, when the state experienced an economic boom driven by export crops and cattle ranching, land was further concentrated in latifundistas’ hands. By the early 1980s, they controlled 30% of Chiapan land, whilst poor, and especially indigenous peasants were increasingly forced to work as labourers on large estates. An even deeper chasm resulted from the Mexican debt crisis of 1982. The government responded to the financial collapse by slashing agricultural subsidies and wages, privatising industries and dismantling economic protections. Though the rural revolts provoked by these measures induced redistribution of some land to Chiapan peasants, the Mexican state adopted a divide and rule strategy: only peasants who acquiesced to the ruling party, the PRI, were granted land, whilst members of independent peasant organisations were intimated and repressed. Then, in 1989, coffee prices dropped precipitously, damaging one of Chiapas’ main exports, and in 1992 Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution was amended. The latter reform legalised the selling of communal farms, ejidos, and their use as collateral for loans. These were dangerous changes that encouraged landlessness and indebtedness. They were also unwelcome ones for indigenous communities, who consider land to be sacred and refute modern notions of private property. The death knell for Chiapan peasants came with the signing of NAFTA, the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, which came into effect on the 1st of
1st of January 1994. Price controls were liberalised and tariffs cut, allowing subsidised North American crops to flood the Mexican market and crush small-scale producers, including many indigenous Chiapans. The Zapatistas began their revolution on the first day of NAFTA, but the socio-economic restructuring the trade agreement ushered in has ultimately prevailed over their demands. Economic conditions in Chiapas remain dire, and subsequent Mexican administrations have failed to make concessions for indigenous autonomy. After the failure of national authorities to implement the 1996 San Andres Accords signed with the ELZN and other independent indigenous organisations, the Zapatistas adopted a policy of non-cooperation with the government and refusal of official support. For its part, national counterinsurgency strategy has subjected opposition organisations such as the EZLN to political harassment, and starved them of funds and economic inputs. This has left the socio-economic landscape of Chiapas in tatters, especially in indigenous areas. Almost half of the economically active population earns less than the monthly minimum wage, with average incomes lower in rural and indigenous areas. Chiapas has the highest level of illiteracy in the country, and almost 60% of its population doesn’t have access to medical services. According to the UN, in 2011 more than a quarter of Chiapans were suffering from malnutrition. Though the road has been arduous, the Zapatista movement has had a significant impact on debates about alternative models of development. In this sense, the divisiveness of opinion that surrounds it is symptomatic of its innovative and provocative character. Whilst some analysts interpret the EZLN as a postmodern revolutionary group because of its nonideological credentials, others portray it as a socialist guerrilla army that has co-opted indigenous grievances for its own political ends. Some say the Zapatistas have achieved laudable forms of democratic selfgovernment; others accuse them of denying dissenters their rights. Some believe that the EZLN has made huge leaps in raising awareness about indigenous peoples’ conditions, whilst others see the indigenous cause as hindering class unity by encouraging a separatist nationalist identity.
These refracted analyses make it difficult to settle on a simple explanation of what the Zapatista revolution represents. Whilst criticisms of the EZLN have proliferated, its messages have reverberated far and wide. Its revolution reminds us that there are still people around the world who are unwilling to let their communities and values be homogenised by neoliberal globalisation, which has drowned out spaces for cultural distinctiveness and radical political debate. The hope is that the Zapatistas live on, if anything, as an inspiration for large and small acts of resistance everywhere.
Revolutions Per Minute: The Slow Pace of Revolution. William Stark When I consider the notion of ‘revolution’, I am cast back to the Uxbridge Odeon in the winter of 2012. Russell Crowe jumps around on screen, deluded by a commitment to the law and the fact that a movie producer thought he could sing. Inspector Javert crushing the student revolt at the barricade, tricolour aloft, is the image most have when they consider what a ‘revolution’ is. However, Les Miserables holds within it a telling fact on what I believe to be the true nature of revolution. As any history buff (or Les Mis fanatic) will tell you, the revolution in Les Miserables is not the famed French Revolution of 1789, but rather a later revolution, staged by students around 1832. This, to those not in the know, may seem rather odd. Why would there need to be a rebellion so soon after the massive upheaval following the Revolution? This is because of the sad historical fact that true social change nearly always takes years to come about. When one looks at the most famous revolutions in history, it can be found that there was not a single day where everything changed. In fact, it would be hard to say there was a day when anything happened to the lives of ordinary citizens. There is only very slow progress that is nearly undetectable. When the American revolution is looked at, the usual assumption may be to jump for the famed date of July 4th 1776.
On this day the Declaration of Independence was signed, and the USA was free from the British yoke. However, that is by no means the beginning, or the end of the revolution. The ‘American revolution’ took place over many years, and not the ones just prescribed to the ‘War of Independence’. There is the initial muttering of the colonists previous to the war, and the initial British response. There is the entire process post American formation, all part of the ‘moving away from colonialism’ process.
However, a significant proportion of the population deemed their existence non-criminal and this was reflected by a majority vote in the Commons. One should note that while the Conservative party as a whole voted against this bill, Hansard records a rebellious ‘Aye’ vote from a ‘Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret’. Clearly, a younger generation, who would come to prominence and power in a number of years time, had made a step towards social change. As generations
The Russian revolution is another example of this. November 1917 is often the go to date for the Russian revolution, yet the full transformation from Tsarist Autocracy to Soviet Republic is a far longer process. The first revolution of 1905, a gradual step in the removal of power from the Tsar; and afterwards, a whole civil war fought between Tsarist powers supported by the west and the Bolsheviks, ending 17 years after the initial revolt, in 1922.
But what to learn of this? Don’t be the students from Les Miserables. Keep the faith with what you believe in, don’t expect too much too quickly, but if you hold on to your beliefs for long enough, you may just start to see a change. Surely this is better than being shot down at the barricade.
Historically, this is all very interesting. But should this conclusion have any impact on how we view politics today? Arguably yes.
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The most useful conclusion to take from the ‘slow pace of revolutions’ hypothesis is that political or social change will always take a long time, and this should be expected most cases. The inherent conservatism of society will always counteract ambitious ideas in the short run, but by no means condemns them in the long run, as long as those pushing for the change understand this.
We are looking for articles based on a particular theme for each issue.
Fantastic progressive movements in society can be made as long as ambitious targets are reasonably long term. This is even to the extent that whole generations must die out before certain ideas are accepted. Social attitudes change as older attitudes drop out with the death of those who belong in them. For example, the improvement in the rights of homosexual people has been a long fought process, with small steps made gradually, as societal attitudes towards homosexuality change. I am not going to claim that in 1967 when homosexuality was legalised all the nation accepted homosexuals wholly. move on, attitudes change, and now we find ourself 2 Conservative Prime Ministers after Thatcher and gay marriage is being put into law.
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“Why is my face on that giant TV screen…?!!” Notes from a Bangkok protest camp. Jessica Farmery
“Please girls, stay away from Democracy Monument” implored our longsuffering tour guide Aor, as my sisters and I waved her goodbye and set off from the hotel lobby. It was our first evening in central Bangkok, and just one kilometre away was the site of the main anti-government protest camp, which had triggered global media attention since its formation soon after the start of the Thai political crisis in November 2013. Violence had been minimal so far, as protesters had endeavoured to remain peaceful, and there had been only a few major clashes with the police. Nevertheless, eight people have been killed in violence to date (according to official figures), and on the morning of Saturday 11th of January, gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on the protesters, wounding seven. It was rumoured that if the government continued to ignore the demands of the protesters then the situation was likely to escalate. However I was still far too intrigued to heed Aor’s warning. What kind of an HSPS student would I be if I missed out on an opportunity to experience the so-called ‘People’s Revolution’ for myself? So, feeling more than a little excited, and armed with a map, camera and notebook, I followed the speeding flag-strewn motorbikes towards the sounds of cheering crowds. On November 1st, the House of Representatives (dominated by the Pheu Thai Party) passed an amnesty bill which would both pardon and facilitate the return of the exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He is currently facing charges of electoral corruption, and widely despised for his illegal and fraudulent dealings. The bill was turned down by the Senate, but it was too late to placate the angry Thai public, and the protests which had erupted, Facing mass resignation of opposition led mainly by MP Suthep Thaugsuban, continued MPs, and under mounting pressure, with an anti-government agenda. Thaskin’s Yingluck has called a snap election for nd sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, succeeded him as Febuary 2 . However, the protesters want Prime Minister, and although she enjoys her to step down and be replaced by an
significant support in the rural north and appointed "people's council" to push northeast, she is accused of being a puppet for through electoral reforms. On December her brother, and perceived as equally corrupt. 9th more than 150,000 people marched Aor (our Thai guide and translator) described through the streets to storm the gates of her as “beautiful but stupid”, and shared the the government complex, and it is feared
lack of confidence and support in her leadership that unless a solution is reached quickly, violence may erupt, held by the majority of the urban population.
resulting in the further use of force by the military or police. Already, tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons have been deployed on the largely peaceful protesters. On January 13th, protesters called a city-wide shutdown to pressurise the government into action. They blocked off seven of the city’s main intersections causing traffic chaos, and 140 schools closed across the capital. As I passed through the traffic barriers surrounding the protest site, the first thing I noticed was the noise. given out for free to everyone in attendance. I was struck Whistling, clapping and chanting came from every by the notable absence of police or security forces, and by direction, almost drowning out the activists shouting into the lack of disturbance, aggressive or inflammatory microphones on the makeshift stage. I scanned the behaviour from the crowds. The atmosphere seemed very crowds of people, who seemed to be a diverse mix of patriotic, strengthened by the fact that Thai people are young, old, male and female Thais. Most were sitting on fiercely loyal and supportive of their royal family. Banners blankets and mats surrounding the ‘stage’ on and signs everywhere proclaimed “we love the king”, and Democracy Monument, or watching the large screens were adorned with images of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. In no positioned around the site. I didn’t see any other way was the a-political monarchy associated with the foreigners- yet my presence didn’t attract much corrupt national government. attention. The usually traffic-filled main road It was Christmas Eve, and the camp was nearing its 50th Ratchadamnoen Klang had been totally closed off, and day of existence. However there were no signs of a loss of covered by two giant awnings which somewhat momentum- indeed many of those camping seemed resembled polytunnels. Underneath, people were determined to stick things out, especially the older retired camped out with tents and sleeping bags, many of them men and women, many of whom had travelled great enjoying picnics or sleeping. The convivial spirit and distances from the countryside or other cities. The scene electric atmosphere was unexpectedly comparable to was reminiscent to some of the 1973 student protests that of a music festival. Stir fries, rice and noodles were against a military dictatorship. being cooked in huge pans in the side of the road, and I walked for a final time through the crowds in front of the main stage, totally absorbed in trying to take in everything that was going on around me. I jumped as my sister tugged my sleeve and pointed in hysterics to the huge LED TV screens. Projected for thousands to see was a close up, live-streamed image of my face! Utterly embarrassed and slightly shell-shocked I gave a wave and smile, which generated a laugh from the crowds and a few whoops. After what seemed like many more minutes of awkward waving, the cameras finally moved on. Still smiling despite myself, I decided that my five minutes of fame were over and it was time to go. My mind was frantically trying to register everything I had seen that evening, and as I set off down the traffic-jammed streets and back to the hotel, I knew that I had witnessed a significant part of a thriving revolution.
The State of Machiavelli; a literary review. Marco Paoletti Philip Bobbitt, The Garments of Court and Palace: Machiavelli and the World That He Made, Atlantic Books, 2013 Maurizio Viroli, Redeeming The Prince: The Meaning of Machiavelli’s Masterpiece, Princeton University Press, 2014
Someone I know once lent his copy of The Prince, by Niccolò Machiavelli, to a friend and never saw it again. The joke out of this little anecdote is that the friend got wise from the book and demonstrated ‘Machiavellian’ cunning by keeping it for himself. Obviously a real Machiavellian would be cleverer than that; but it does get across the idea that the great Florentine was all about the relentless pursuit of self-interest and the abandonment of any striving for the common good, except insofar as it may be useful to seem altruistic, the better to deceive others.
Now the tide is turning, and the most recent scholarship is working hard to reinterpret The Prince in a less menacing light. This project of redemption will be a Herculean labour, for even the word ‘Machiavellian’ is completely entrenched to this day.
Philip Bobbitt, a distinguished American constitutional lawyer, made his own profound contributions to political theory in two long books: The Shield of Achilles (2002) and Terror and Consent (2008). In the epilogue to his latest book, Professor Bobbitt offers a very concise summary of his ‘Shield of Achilles’ thesis; explaining, at the same time, how this relates to Machiavelli, and thus providing a nice, short introduction to his own longer books, as well as to Machiavelli himself.
As Bobbitt views it, ‘the wheel that will bring one constitutional order to an end and replace it with another is simply the latest iteration of a process going back to the Renaissance’. The state created in the middle of Machiavelli’s century underwent fundamental change in the ensuing centuries, and was transformed into the modern nationstate by national leaders who, be they democrats, communists or fascists, all articulated the legitimating basis of the modern state as: ‘Give us power … and we will improve your material well-being’. The incipient ‘market-state’ does not promise the material well-being of the nationalist welfare state: instead it says to twenty-first century citizens, Give us power, and we will maximise your opportunities, not by expanding social security but by encouraging pluralism, laissez-faire principles and market choices. (If, Reader, you are curious or perplexed, then the only cure is to read Bobbitt’s masterful works.).
But let us not get ahead of ourselves. Bobbitt summarises the thesis of his earlier books to explain the similar developments that Machiavelli was predicting and advocating in his own time. The Prince was not written for selfish princes: it was written to galvanise a true prince or redeemer to carry out reforms necessary to found the modern state and protect it against rapacious mercenaries, foreign invaders and the latest gunpowder technology.
The prince should become reified and immortalised in the institutions of the state itself; and nothing is more important to Machiavelli, in this regard, than the ideal reformerprince’s establishment of a civic militia that should bolster national security; the liberation of Florence from the power of mercenaries; and the building of trust between ruler and subjects. Central to Machiavelli’s vision of the state was the establishment of institutions, whether militias or treaties, that would last long after the death of this or that ruler.
Maurizio Viroli, a veteran scholar of Machiavelli and now retired from Princeton, does not have this modern preoccupation in his equally short and eloquent Redeeming The Prince; but in his concern to set the record straight, he covers a lot of the same ground as Bobbitt, albeit from different angles.
As Bobbitt and Viroli both point out, Machiavelli is neither immoral nor amoral. He espouses what Bobbitt identifies as the consequentialist school of morality, according to which people ought to get their hands dirty if the deontological alternative – doing ‘the right thing’ in order to feel morally pristine about oneself – actually causes further harm to others. A political act, then, like any other act, is not inherently bad: it all depends on why the action is being done.
This all casts into doubt earlier interpretations of the book, such as that of Garrett Mattingly, who suggested in 1958 that The Prince was a satire of contemporary manuals of courtly protocols. But there is something else wrong with Mattingly’s view that it is all literary satire: if this is true, The Prince has no lasting value. No one today needs to read it to know that immorality and deception have their tactical uses in everyday life; still less are we interested in wry satires of a defunct literary genre.
According to the chronological interpretation accepted by Bobbitt, Viroli and many others besides, this year marks exactly five centuries since Machiavelli wrote The Prince. Across this stretch of time, the greatest lesson we can glean from Machiavelli is to be aware of change happening around us, and to reconceptualise our principles of statecraft, the better to cope with these changes.
beautiful'. So proclaimed legendary Brazilian musician
Black bloc: defense tactic or a new wave of politics?
Caetano Veloso in response to the banning of masks in Rio
'Tomorrow we can all go to the streets wearing masks. That is a non-violent response to violence. It could be very
at the Independence Day protests, on a viral video created by citizen journalist network MidiaNinja, or Narrativas Independentes, Jornalismo e Ação. Wearing masks in Brazil is an iconic feature of the black bloc, a protest tactic which has gained popularity worldwide in which participants turn up at protests masked and dressed all in black.
Unlike in Britain, where the black bloc emotively divided the political left, in Brazil it gathers considerable support across the centre-left spectrum. There are countless circumstantial
In Brazil, on the other hand, the state’s mask of
and historical reasons for this difference, (most importantly
freedom and representation is much less effective,
the fact that the Brazilian military police are much more
with its once militant leftist and democratically elected
violent than the British police), but I suggest that one
president complicit in dictatorship-like conditions in
influential factor is the specific way in which protest tactics
favelas, the deaths of thousands at the hands of the
are debated in Britain. In coverage by the Guardian and
police every year, the violent repression of strikes4
Open Democracy, in particular, those opposing the black
and the use of the same military police to repress and
bloc wrote of its inefficacy as a protest tactic, assuming the
curtail protest.5 The debate over the black bloc in
possibility of creating some kind of ‘ideal’ protest mechanism
Brazil is not so much ‘is it, or isn’t it, a protest tool
that will, at some point, achieve the goals of the protesters.
that will help us get what we want’, but the broader, ‘is it the creation of a new politics, or simply a defensive tactic?’
This article draws on experiences with the black bloc in London during 2010-11, and in Rio de Janeiro in 2013-2014. It suggests that while it must largely be perceived as a defensive, even desperate, protest tactic, it is also a viscerally transformative political experience that is shaping new frontiers in both activism and theory.
In many ways, black bloc tactics can be seen as a simple
As black bloc activist Emma asserts on Midia Ninja,
and practical response to police oppression and arbitrary
those in the black bloc want to avoid the unauthorised
arrests at protests. Jonathan Moses argues that in the
usage of photographs, and resist the targeted criticism
case of the March 2011 protest in Britain, ‘for a student on
and delegitimation of protest leaders by the press and
their fourth major demonstration since November – now
police force. The anonymity that comes with black bloc
familiar with police Forward Intelligence Teams, the
tactics can be seen therefore as a defensive movement
arbitrary brutality of the TSG [Territorial Support Group] –
against the infringement of civil liberties.
covering one’s face and operating collectively makes perfect sense.’1 False arrests, the overuse of surveillance
In Brazil, the black bloc is also a defensive tactic
technologies3 and compiling of protest databases4 that
against tear gas. Tear gassing is a regular and over-
encourage police to identify ‘leaders’ and arbitrarily arrest
used police tactic that affects all protestors, inside or
them in crowds of protesters have become a common
outside the black bloc. On the march down Avenida
feature in Britain. In Brazil, too, workers in human rights
Presidente Vargas on the 7 September Independence
organisations and social movement activists discovered
Day protests in Rio, anyone without a mask would
their phones were being monitored during the June
simply have had to leave the protest.
The smashing of banks can be seen as an attempt to reverse the invisibility of capitalist power; the way in which the glossy corporate world smirks over the streets of much photographed and celebrated global cities, with their implication in political corruption and the arms trade widely known yet emphatically denied . Owen Jones attacks this tactic on the grounds that it poses ‘absolutely no threat whatsoever to the The naming of the Brazilian protests as the ‘Revolta do
capitalist system’.2 But other commentators,
Vinagre’ is hence highly symbolic, because the banning of
particularly in Brazil, assert that black bloc tactics are
vinegar, which protects against tear gas, and the banning
precisely a response to the realisation that no form of
of masks at protests essentially signifies the banning of
protest appears to have posed any kind of threat to
participation in protests altogether. Wearing a mask and
that system. Leonardo Sakamoto argues that the
carrying vinegar is therefore not just a defence tactic
Brazilian protests reveal a complete democratic deficit
against being gassed, but a defence tactic against the
of a political system intrinsically incapable of altering
termination of the protest altogether.
the economic or political status quo.3 Smashing a window is importantly a very different action to planting
In Brazil non-black bloc protesters report feeling safer with
a bomb, as it is done with the clear awareness that it
the black bloc present. Unlike in Britain, where the bloc
will simply make no difference – and that is precisely
tends to split off, unwilling to be seen as ‘leading’ any
the point. As quoted by Laurie Penny in the aftermath
other group, in the Brazilian context of much greater
of the student protests in 2010, Martin Luther King
police violence, the bloc tends in general to form the front
famously claimed that ‘a riot is the language of the
lines of protests allowing non-masked activists to march
behind without having to directly confront the police. The masked black bloc also take the first hit of the tear gas, and those behind have a little more time to cover their faces or run. At the same time a desperate response to police repression, the bloc can therefore be seen as an assertion and, at times, enabler of the right to protest.
The so called black bloc ‘violence’ generally involves smashing the windows of banks and multinational businesses, and attacking police property not people.
A new research team at IDS in Sussex, however,
As a local explained to me “Street children who
sees the rise of the black bloc worldwide as part of a
have never had the experience of being treated like a
new wave of political participation that they term 'unruly
citizen, dress in black block during the protests and
politics', manifested in the Egyptian revolution, food riots
in Kenya, and anti-austerity protests. An understanding of politics, according to unruly politics theorists, cannot be
Theorists of unruly politics argue that the analytical
complete without, for example, an understanding of the
abilities of academics are severely constrained by their
anger people feel while choking on tear gas, the
lack of personal engagement. A detached and
helplessness of a witness to police brutality, the feeling
observational analysis is not suited to the highly
of being demonised by media outlets, or the fear of
affective experience created by the black bloc tactics,
arrest and imprisonment. But it also incomplete without
or the unique discourses on power and empowerment
an understanding of the feelings generated by collective
that they generate. To focus on whether or not black
solidarity and self-defence. Unusually, in Brazil, the black
bloc tactics ‘work’, and whether or not they actually
bloc unites an intensely socially divided nation with the
change the hegemonic political reality, is both to
mass participation of people from favelas as well as
underestimate the strength of that reality and to miss
the intimate transformative politics of collective action.
A Note on Conservative Revolutions Marco Paoletti In 1789, many Britons dwelt uneasily on the thought that the one hundred and first anniversary of their own revolution was being commemorated – coincidentally, of course – by a much more radical and unpalatable revolution in France. By standard accounts the Glorious Revolution of 1688 was a quick, almost bloodless measure to restore true religion and its attendant benefit of civil liberty: the Revolution of 1789, however, quickly led its participants down Parisian lanes flowing with blood; to gratuitous executions; riots and class warfare; the most violent anticlericalism to date in European history; and a war that eventually stretched from the English Channel to the Nile and did not end until 1815. The leaders of the Glorious Revolution, principally nobles of the highest rank, would most certainly have approved such words as ‘restoration’ and ‘protection’ to describe their plans to overthrow the Stuart monarch James II, precisely because they deemed the Stuarts’ claim to legitimacy sundered by their destruction of the true Protestant religion and their trampling upon the ancient constitution. It is certainly plausible to take these glorious revolutionaries by their word and accept that they were rescuing the ‘true religion’ and – even if they did not know it – the future of civil liberties in the English-speaking world. But in the process, they entirely transformed their country and, in the view of David Hume and many others, rewrote a good deal of its history as well. This sounds like a classic revolution: so we must wonder if the Glorious Revolution really preserved or restored more than it changed, given its profoundly transformative effect upon history. To use cutting-edge terminology, the Glorious Revolution in England started an ‘institutional drift’ every bit as significant as the French Revolution’s. Now any word, even the word ‘revolution’, seems harmless when reduced to its Latin, Greek, or AngloSaxon roots. Thus, following the older and more anodyne use of the word, the orderly replacement of one government by another, following a fair election, may be described as a revolution. This procedural hallmark of modern representative democracy, of course, was unknown to the men and women of the late seventeenth century: but you see the point I am making. The distinctly pre-1789 meaning of the word was routinely employed by clerics, political pamphleteers and poets. Some scholars have studied this linguistic subtlety and warned that such an event as the Glorious Revolution cannot be classified as a revolution in the modern sense – though Steve Pincus, author of 1688, would strongly disagree. To avoid such confusions, German academics even compiled a ponderous historical dictionary, chronicling the graduated meanings of just about every word in their language, from the middle ages to the present day. Student readers will decide for themselves whether the absence of an English-language equivalent is a curse or a blessing.
But these linguistic subtleties will only take us so far. We must separate conservatism from conservative revolution. As David Cannadine observed in his fine book Ornamentalism, the pomp and ceremony of royalty and the Commonwealth was played up in Britain during the era of fascism and communism, to offer solace to Britons who had glimpsed the austere imagery of Russo-Italian futurists and vast Nazi rallies in concrete fields. This propagandist turn was legitimate conservatism: it simply played up and aggrandised what was already there and had never fully disappeared – namely the Crown, the Church and the Empire – as a moral bulwark against the new forces of perverted science. What, then, do we make of the conservative revolutionaries of interwar Germany? To return Germany to some ideal state largely resembling Tacitus’ Germania was not merely unlikely: it was simply not conservatism. It was as natural as a mad doctor attempting to shock life into a frigid corpse. That is why it is impossible to call the Nazis ‘conservatives’, and why common usage has settled on the more accommodating term ‘far Right’ instead. Atavism is not the same as conservatism. I would not be the first person to suggest that Margaret Thatcher was also more a revolutionary than a conservative, because she entirely refashioned the Conservative Party along new lines, even as she invoked names like Adam Smith to give her programme a strong conceptual foundation and sense of historical texture. On the other hand, those modern Conservatives who reject Thatcherism ought perhaps to revolutionise their conception of conservatism, rather than pretend that Thatcher never existed. Yet some persist with anachronistic self-descriptions like, say, ‘Macmillanite’ or ‘Ted Heath Conservative’; as if the policies applied in Keynesian 1960’s and ’70s Britain could be revived with only minimal adjustment for the present generation. Nick Carraway famously warned Jay Gatsby that ‘You can’t repeat the past’. His admonition is dead on, no less in the realm of political science than in the events of that beautiful novel. This is not a condemnation of revolution, conservatism, or revolutionary conservatism: nothing can be judged according to the abstract noun by which it is described. But we should doubt the notion that revolutions, properly so-called, can ever be principally about restoration, conservatism and protection. I would bore the reader if I elaborated the truism that all events, even revolutions, are characterised by both continuity and change. It is true, but it is not a satisfying conclusion. Revolutionaries for change are embarrassed by any continuities between themselves and their predecessors; whilst revolutionary conservatives generally employ the rhetoric of protection, conservatism and restoration even as they engender their transformations of society. But both seek a fundamental alteration of the world around them, even those who deny this is so. What would the Jacobins have made of dry-as-dust scholars trawling archives to prove how much and in what ways life stayed the same in France before and after 1789? But, conversely, what would President Reagan have said if anyone explained to him – contrary to what he told an astonished Henry Kissinger, a man gifted with historical understanding – that Bismarck was not in fact an early advocate of free trade?
Are drone strikes consistent with a Revolution in Military Affairs? Luke Karwowski The use of Unmanned Ariel Vehicles (known colloquially as ‘drones’) by the British and American armed forces has been the focus of extremely negative media coverage across the western world. This is entirely justified in my opinion. Just one of many tragic errors took place on December 12th in Yemen. A United States UAV mistook a wedding procession for an Al Qaeda convoy: between ten and seventeen unarmed civilians lost their lives. Stories like this strike at the heart of mounting concerns regarding the efficacy, ethics and dangers posed by drone strikes. Behind the tragic human loss though lies a more intricate concern regarding whether the use of drone strikes is revolutionising the ways wars are fought. That is, can this military hardware be said to be consistent with a Revolution in Military Affairs? : That the nature, character, and outcome of modern warfare will be determined by the group with the greatest technological advantage? If RMA theory is considered strictly from a technological standpoint, it is plausible to conclude that the usage of drones is consistent with a Revolution in Military Affairs. Drone warfare seems to fit perfectly within what Baylis terms the ‘Information economy’, whereby in an increasingly globalised world and in the era of post-modernity, wealth and security are increasingly secured by access to and utilisation of information. Though RMA theorists can only reach consensus that new military technologies are changing the character of war, it is easy to see why certain proponents, particularly of the American-led approach to RMA, believe so strongly that a drone’s intelligence gathering, reconnaissance and lethality posits a revolution in the way wars will be fought, and even won. On the 2nd of November 2013, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban Hakimullah Mehsud, alongside five associates, were reportedly killed by a US led drone strike in the north-western region of Waziristan. Fifty one strikes were ordered in 2013 alone.
Particular proponents of US led RMA discourse, such as former US secretary of Defence William Cohen, defines an RMA as ‘operations and tactics, to achieve decisive military results in fundamentally new ways’. Unmanned Ariel Vehicles made up a crucial element of the United State’s ‘shock and awe’ tactics from as early as Vietnam to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Rumsfeld’s calls for ‘overwhelming force with lesser numbers’ to ‘capitulate the enemy’ cannot be disputed. On closer inspection however, the limitations of the argument that drones strikes are consistent with an RMA are all too clear. First and foremost, the gradual shift from ‘man to machine’ on the battlefield is simply not the case. Network centric, remote warfare is nothing new; in fact it has and will continue in the foreseeable future to be initiated by ground troops. Therefore the utilisation of drone warfare could better be perceived as an outcome of changing methods and adaptation to Kaldonian ‘New war’, from the ground up, reflecting greater structural changes in the international system. This form of asymmetric warfare can be characterised by a great difference in military capability between two or more sides and commonly features guerrilla tactics/ counter insurgency. Reaper and Predator UAV’s have been used for reconnaissance purposes since the First Gulf War (1990) and Kosovo War (1998). UAV military function was only installed after the attacks on the World Trade Centre (9/11). A yet stronger point of the argument is, if drones were consistent with an RMA, it would imply that they are or will contribute to a swift and decisive, cleaner victory: the opposite is clearly the case. Apart from the obvious dangers and limitations of classifying the counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan as a ‘war’, the increasing lethality of Improvised Explosive Devices, (claiming 4,500 US troops alone) highlights the limitations and failures of applying RMA theory to ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ (2003-present). Drone strikes may indeed be another nail in the coffin for US led discourse on RMA.
Drones may perhaps be best perceived as yet another feature of a post-modern, globalised society, in which the boundaries between territories, and indeed
resemble those of the past? There are many social movements that have significantly changed the face of society without being violent or even inherently political.
between soldier and civilian, are blurred. War is still ‘continuation of political intercourse with a mixture of
The next one will be ‘mindfulness’. The current system m ay we l l b e d i s e n g a g i n g , vo t i n g b e i n g a n
other means’. For instance, the United Nations has reviewed over thirty three US led drone strikes which may have violated international law. Particular concerns
inconsequential action for many. However, the ideology of capitalism and the characteristics of consumerism are thriving amongst the population, young and old.
have been raised over ‘targeted killing’, grave civilian casualties and the breaching of territorial sovereignty.
Toddlers are learning how to use iPads, and we at all ages are more attuned to measuring our happiness
Professor Emmerson of the United Nation’s special rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter terrorism has gone as far to argue that the technology platform
according to the efficiency in which we spend our money. What is troubling every single one of us today? Our concepts of ‘success’ are framed precariously
amounts to a form of ‘global policing’ rather than a weapon of war.
around money, or occupation, or the opinion of others. Fame and riches are lies that will never live up to your
So, whilst drone strikes may appear to posit a Revolution in Military Affairs, particularly from a technological standpoint, on closer inspection the limitations of this hypothesis are all too clear. Coalition operations within the Middle East may in fact pose a danger to the credibility of RMA theory and drone strikes certainly only represent, according to Singer, ‘potential’ rather than ‘revolution’. Though beyond the scope of this article, it may be beneficial to finish by reflecting on the fact that RMA theory is truly based on a western conception of war, and the use of drones by non-western forces, and against opponents such as China (who may in fact pose technological superiority) has been little explored. In spite of surface changes in the character of war, drones may be at best considered another asset in the bloody, brutal and politically-motivated business of warfare.
imagination. The pursuit and unlikely achievement of these goals will only leave you empty. I ask you here to challenge this accepted paradigm of society today. Dopamine is the chemical in our brains that drives us towards things. However, it is too often misguided. The chase is often better than the kill – in uncontrolled amounts, dopamine will leave you neurotically driven towards all sorts of random goals; envy and desire of material products are universal examples of dopamine being a negative element of the modern lifestyle. I believe this is an accurate description of anyone’s desire for fame or riches in the long term, or for a new unnecessary outfit in the short term. Much of our brain is still hardwired for the outdated ‘fight or flight’ response and our modern lifestyles are not particularly compatible. The chemicals that fire off in our brains today are unchanged from those that functioned
‘The mindfulness revolution is imminent’
hundreds of years ago. Every single person, without exception has thoughts along the lines of ‘my life would
What ‘mindfulness’ can teach us is to take a step back
When we think of revolution, our minds jump to the famous French and American examples, or the soviets who envisaged a communist state. Violence is not a desirable means to any ends for many Western minds. However, why do we expect the next revolution to
be better if… (Insert material or sexual goal here)’.
from these thoughts, notice them, and categorise them as false. As a 16 year old, I believed that Cambridge University would somehow be an answer to every problematic academic or personal issue. I can wholeheartedly confirm that life carried on just as before. There is still a variably large part of me that
(continued from ‘The mindfulness revolution is imminent’) ... believes if I get the job I’ve always wanted, all my problems will be solved. That is the anthem of dopamine for you, and it isn’t to be trusted. I believe the revolution will consist of this: the realisation for many people that the thoughts we have should not drive our every move. For some, there will be a shift towards transcendental goals of inner peace; for others it just means being less fixated on physical appearance, of ourselves and others. In an ideal world, both voters and politicians will be motivated by goals that are bigger than themselves or money. The system is not inherently flawed, but the people inhabiting it are – we are all poorly adapted to our modern lifestyles that are more fear mongering and sedentary than ever. Mindfulness is a technique that will allow us to progress to less vacuous goals than fame and personal gratification. The revolution is personal, political, societal and global. It is imminent, and it starts with you. The heart of my opinion is in the book ‘Sane New World’ by Ruby Wax, who studied neuroscience at Oxford and was a practicing psychiatrist and life coach. The most observant among you may notice my language faithfully pioneered from Russell Brand; also an unconventional source of wisdom in society today. You-tube them!
Photo Competition! Would you like your photo to be on the front cover of the next issue of Silverstreet? The theme will be ‘Journey’. First prize will get the coveted prize of front cover, but all others will be entered into a gallery spread for the next edition. The Silverstreet team will judge all entries and choose the final winner. Email us with your submissions at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Acknowledgements Thanks for all the contributors for this issue, whether you are undergraduate, a masters student or PhD, thank you for taking the time out of your inevitably busy schedules to write a piece for this first edition. The team would also like to thank Melissa Reilly for all her help with distribution and general support throughout the production process. This magazine would not have come together without her hard work distributing information for us over the past few months.
NEXT EDITION - JOURNEY
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Silverstreet was created by students for students for the faculty of Human, Social and Political Sciences.
The first edition of Silverstreet, the faculty magazine for Human, Social and Political Sciences at The University of Cambridge. The magaz...
Published on Feb 13, 2014
The first edition of Silverstreet, the faculty magazine for Human, Social and Political Sciences at The University of Cambridge. The magaz...